Safaricom turns down push by Airtel and Yu to use M-Pesa agents.

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  • 8 years ago
  • Posted: February 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

How about a three joint mobile money agent to cover for the three dominating telecommunication companies in Kenya?

Airtel Kenya petitioned the competition watch dog to take action on Safaricom for barring M-Pesa agents from offering rival’s mobile payment services, arguing that the practice amounts to an abuse of dominance.

The leading telco argued that it spent billions of shillings to grow the M-Pesa agency and wouldn’t allow rival operators including Essar Kenya operator of Yu. Airtel and Yu have least numbers of mobile money agents countrywide leaving Kenyans with no option but subscribing to Safaricom’s mobile money services which pose ease to access.

According to the latest official statistics Safaricom’s market share in the mobile money market stands at 73 per cent in terms of customers (18.1 million) and 88 per cent terms of agents (78,856). The giant telco believes that the rival telcos have an equal opportunity to grow their agency network and not use them as a stepping stone.

Though it is possible to send money across networks, it has had its own ties and makes it hectic for the subscribers of respective telecoms.  For instance, an Airtel subscriber can send money to an M-Pesa user who will receive a short text message notifying them of the cash but a Safaricom subscriber will have to get an Airtel money agent to withdraw the money.

The challenge is due to Airtel’s fewer agents in comparison to Safaricom in the same breath costing more to the subscriber.

The 7-8 year hustle to put M-pesa together is a big factor to close out competitor telcos in collaborating to offer services.

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